The nature of flooding can vary dramatically in terms of cause, timing and depth.
Wollongong's location at the foot of the escarpment means we’re prone to flash flooding. Heavy rainfall along the escarpment means runoff reaches the creeks very quickly. This gives residents little time to prepare.
Floods are often classified by their severity. The scale used to classify floods in Wollongong is:
- minor – causes road closures and traffic disruptions only
- serious – affects residential areas
- severe – affects homes, shops and factory areas, evacuations of low lying properties
- very severe – extensively affects homes, shops and factories, evacuations of many residential areas and substantial damage to property and facilities
- extreme – unprecedented damage/levels of flooding, massive damage to property and facilities, widespread evacuations of residents in life threatening conditions.
The NSW State Emergency Service (SES) is responsible for dealing with floods in NSW. This includes planning for floods and educating people about how to protect themselves and their property. During a flood, SES volunteers are responsible for flood safety advice, evacuation, rescue and the provision of essentials to people cut off by flood waters.
In a life-threatening emergency call Triple Zero, 000, immediately. For general help in a flood or storm call the SES on 132 500.
The State Emergency Service and Endeavour Energy recommends that residents take the following steps when flooding and/or storms hit or are close...
- Switch off appliances and electricity supply at the mains (meter box) even when it has been reported that power has been cut off in your area.
- Treat all power lines as live, stay at least 8 metres clear. Look out for wires low hanging or on the ground, dangling in flood waters or tangled in trees
- Do not drive across fallen power lines
- If power lines have fallen across or become entangled in your vehicle, unless in immediate danger remain inside your vehicle and call/wait for help
- If in immediate danger (the wires are “crackling or moving), open your door and jump well clear. Keep your hands off the vehicle and your feet together, then continue jumping with your feet together until at least 10 metres clear
- When travelling by boat through flood waters, keep a good distance from power lines and poles
- If your boat is wooden or fibreglass, do not touch the water or metallic parts of the motor when near power lines or poles.
- Remember, clearance heights of overhead power lines decrease during high tides and floodwaters
Flood Preparation Measures
- Find out if your house or business could be affected by flooding
- Work out a safe route in case you need to evacuate
- Keep your local emergency numbers handy.
During Heavy Rainfall
- Listen to your local radio station for warnings and advice
- Make sure your neighbours are also aware and keep in touch in case they need your help
- Move garbage containers, chemicals and poisons beyond the reach of water
- Secure objects that might float away and cause damage
- Move livestock and equipment to high ground
- Stack your furniture and other possessions beyond the reach of water – place electrical goods on top of any piles
- Check your motor vehicle and keep it full of fuel
During a Flood
- Avoid driving or walking through flood waters, don’t try to return home until you are sure it is safe
- Don’t drive on roads that have been closed
- If you are at home, stay there until advised otherwise
- Avoid using electrical or gas appliances
- Don’t eat or drink food that has been in contact with flood water
- Wear shoes and gloves while cleaning up, use a strong disinfectant.